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Social media a-Twitter after Stamkos 'likes' TSN post

NHL.com @NHL

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos didn't really like what happened when he happened to like a tweet.

Stamkos on Thursday had to address his "like" of a TSN tweet for a video discussing the possibility he could sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs as an unrestricted free agent after this season.

"People are going to talk about stuff, I'm not too worried about that," Stamkos told the Tampa Bay Times at the morning skate prior to playing the Ottawa Senators. "I guess when you are in the spotlight, and lots of people have done things accidentally. It probably doesn't look great. But I'm telling you guys that it was an accident and hopefully this is the last time I have to answer questions about Twitter."

Stamkos quickly "unliked" the tweet. But the longer he remains unsigned, the more people will speculate that he will wind up playing for Toronto, about 18 miles from his hometown, Markham, Ontario.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman has said signing Stamkos is his top priority. The sides have agreed to keep any details about negotiations private.

Coach Jon Cooper, who signed a multiyear contract extension last week, said Stamkos' situation is not a distraction.

"What happens in (the media's) position, that's your job when you follow a team every day for nine months," Cooper told the newspaper. "There are going to be stories to write about every month, and naturally this is a story to write about. But when we are working on our 5-on-3 (power play), it's not [Tyler Johnson] turning to [Stamkos] and saying, 'What's up with your contract; let's talk about that right now.' That never goes on.

"Whatever happens outside and in the media, that's for you guys to assume or speculate. But with our team and inside our locker room, it has no effect."

Stamkos is playing the final season of a five-year, $37.5 million contract he signed after spending 18 days as a restricted free agent in July 2011.

The Lightning are 13-12-3 this season, sixth in the Atlantic Division entering play Thursday. Stamkos has 11 goals and nine assists; he's on pace for 58 points.

He was second in the NHL last season with 43 goals in 82 games, and had seven goals and 11 assists in 26 games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He did not score a goal in six games during the Stanley Cup Final loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

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